1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

2,642 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,642
Reviews: 1,371
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 129
Gots: 453 | FT: 14
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Stock Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,642 | Reviews: 1,371 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of EPseja
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice at just above cellar temperature.

A - Looks like a crystal clear tawny port with orange and ruby highlights. The head stared out at a full inch, then quickly diminished to almost nothing in under a minute. Good points for the color and clarity, but points off for the disappointing head.

S - Serious malts that smell like they've come from a whisky barrel. Vanilla (or vanillin) mingles with subdued and well blended alcohol. Molasses. Cognac and orange peel. Reminds me of the miniature dark chocolate liquor bottles you find around the holidays -- this one being the equivalent of the Grand Marnier. Full and satisfying.

T - The very first taste on the tongue is super-dry malt. The sweetness in the smell does not carry over into the taste. In the middle, the vanilla and whisky tones make their appearance side by side with an understated sweetness. The aftertaste is dominated by a creme brulee flavor and the slow-burn of the alcohol. Very complex.

M - The very first thing that you notice once this beer enters your mouth is a very tingly (but tasteless) effervescence on the tip of your tongue. This quickly subsides, and the beer takes on a round, slick medium consistency without being syrupy.

D - Although it's inital nose might make one think that it's going to be thick, this beer's lightness of mouthfeel makes it a very smooth drinker.

Overall, I would liken this beer to a cordial. This beer has all of the flavor of a well-developed tawny port (and then some), but with half the alcohol and a lighter palette-feel.

EPseja, Jun 29, 2005
Photo of charlesw
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained through trade (thanks again, Mike!).

Pours dark brown. I want to say that it's clear, but I can't see through it. Maybe it's just brown. No, dark brown. Small tight head that quickly vanishes leaving a lasting lace.

It smells like BnR Rum Raisin ice cream - no question about it (I used to make the stuff).

The taste follows through a good deal on that... A thick caramel maltiness with that rum raisin taste not far behind. No hops detected. Thick aftertaste of a lighter molasses...

Nice in the mouth - creamy, smooth, nice and thick.

It would be hard for me to call this really drinkable - the rum raisin flavor is really strong. I mean, you'd have one, you know? So, drinkable... Well... Actually, it goes really well with the potato-leek soup that I'm having right now. I mean, yesterday I had the same soup and a very hoppy (bitter) beer and the beer was just terrible with it. But with this creamy (well, bland) soup the beer is perfect - nice and smooth, easy to swallow, it helps clear the palate a bit before the next bite of soup...

charlesw, Jun 28, 2005
Photo of karst
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003
Bright mahogany color with a 2 finger tan head and some lace.

Aromas of caramelized malt, alcohol, ripe dark fruits, (raisins- plums- figs).
Flavors similar with lots of caramel. Pleasing carbonation stronger that I would expect in a 2 yr old Barleywing. Round creamy medium mouthfeel. Hops still present. Alcoholic notes are smooth and vinous.

Pleasant to sip.

12/24/05
after a year in the cellar fruit and hops reduced. Strong alcoholic aroma with some weakened caramel. Nice round mouthfeel. Excellent winter sipper.
Although my cellar temps fluctuate a little too much - this has done well!

karst, Jun 24, 2005
Photo of board45
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle
2003 edition

Cloudy, dark, rich, golden brown w/ a thin mocha head. The nose is coffee and espresso. The taste is loaded w/ malt, w/ espresso and hazelnut. Tons of nut here. Initially you taste none of the alcohol but at the finish it is awfully warming. I also find a little sweetness in the middle but cant tell exactly what it is. Oak accents are there too. I look forward to having more.

board45, Jun 23, 2005
Photo of paterlodie
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Good appearance with light yellowbrown head and dark brown beercolor. Nose is fenomenal, yeast and hop fruity with strawberries but yeastspice also. Lots of malts with sharp roast and sweet caramel. Further lots of alcohol with cognac hint. Taste is complex being sweet, alcoholic, roast&fruit( strawberry again) before staying alcoholic bitter. Woww this warms almost as cognac. This is enjoyable, maybe litle too sweet but forgiven with such a full taste.

paterlodie, Jun 09, 2005
Photo of sinistermadman
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a deep red-amber hue while emanating minimal head action.

Smell has a strong alcohol nose, but some fruit and caramel are evident as well. Smells like it packs a punch.
This stuff could burn the house down. Very sweet taste and quite smooth. Mouthfeel is quite respectable considering the alcohol content. Very creamy and full. Did I mention this stuff is sweet? Sweet fruit and malt dominate the flavor from beginning to end. My eyes almost water if I breathe out my nose after taking a drink. A well crafted brew that will destroy your puny ass if you don't respect it.

sinistermadman, Jun 04, 2005
Photo of barrelman
2.17/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

The beer poured deep burgundy with little head. Actually let's get down to it. This beer was tough to drink and here's why. The alcohol was overpowering. I am no stranger to high alcohol beer and realize the difficulty with balancing such a potent beer, but I feel that some work needs to be done with this one. The aroma, taste and mouthfeel are dominated by alcohol.

barrelman, Jun 03, 2005
Photo of bashiba
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a 2004 bottle of this North Coast Classic!
Poured a red/brown Mahogony color with no head at all.

Smells of sweet malts and caramel and a nice woody odor.

Taste is great layers of flavors including apples, Maple, Caramel, Cedar, and plums. Has a bit of the alchol notes poking through and has an earthy dry finish.

Mouthfeel is warming and full and finishes dry.

This is a very drinkable and enjoyable big beer, defenitly not for a session, but a very nice treat if you are only going to drink one.

bashiba, Jun 01, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 bottle drank in 2004: Poured a hazy deep burgundy color ale with a small dark beige head with limited retention. Aroma of dried sweet fruit with some floral hops also noticeable. Taste is quite sweet reminiscent of figs and dates with a full body and limited carbonation. Great barley wine, probably one of the best beer from North Coast that I had the chance to sample.

Phyl21ca, May 31, 2005
Photo of ncbrewerbun
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We broke this 2002 version open for a small tasting with a few homebrewers. It had been celared since 2002.

Poured a dark brown with a small off-white head.

Aroma is dark fruits and malt...raisins, some plum, which nicely mirrors the flavor. Again, raisin, malt, some vanilla...a really complex mix.

Full body. A complex beer with a lot going on. You know how certain beers hit you at certain time? Well, tonight was an Old Stock kind of night. Thoroughly enjoyable.

ncbrewerbun, May 16, 2005
Photo of woemad
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle purchased at the Rocket Market in Spokane for $1.29.

Poured a very hazy, dark amber color. Looks almost like unfiltered apple cider. An off-white head tried to form, but couldn't quite get it together, though there was a foamy collar that left minimal lacing.

Smell was very malty, with dark cherries being the most dominant flavor. There was also a minor, floral hoppiness evident. The malts are definitely king in this beer.

This was mostly malty in flavor, with elements of dark fruits like cherries and plums. Very boozy tasting as it warms up as well. At the swallow, there is a pleasing hop dryness, but otherwise this is the malts' show, and it's rather yummy.

This is a "chewy" beer, thick and rather viscous. Dainty macro lager sippers beware.

This is a great dessert beer, one to appreciate after a good meal like a fine cigar. However it would not be a good choice when looking for a session beer. It's way too thick a beer for that, plus the abv would knock most drinkers on their ass in no time.

woemad, May 15, 2005
Photo of beerceller99
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 bottling.
Has a mahogany hue with a thin , off white head. Strong caramel raison smell. Lightly carbonated with a syrupy mouthfeel . The flavor is of sticky sweet malts and raisons. Has an interesting spice - alcohol taste to finish.
This brew tastes better on the cold side; a strong alcohol taste lowers the drinkability .

beerceller99, Apr 23, 2005
Photo of 2ndstage
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow what a beer. I had been looking for this one for quite some time, imagine my surprise when I found this on a shelf. Amarillo is NOT a place to find good beer.

Pours a nice dark garnet hue. Minimal head that dispersed within a minute or so.
Strong malty aroma with a few tones of maybe licorice. Very smooth for the gravity of this ale, Alcohol presense is definately right up front on the first sip to is soon soothed by the creamy malt backbone.
Mouthfeel is quite a bit lighter than I expected in this style but I find it much more pleasing than some other versions of this kind.
On the hop front nice balance Fuggle taste/aroma fits in quite well with this one.

Drinkability. Very smooth goes down well but beware the 11.4% will definately reach out there and smack you soon.
A++

2ndstage, Apr 22, 2005
Photo of WetCoaster
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep amber with a slightly off-white head. Almost no retention on first pour; pretty solid on the second. Fine mild carbonation.

Smell: Super juicy, fruity, flowery sweetness. Malty, syrup heavy, with almost no hop scent to speak of.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow, that is one mouthful of malt. Big-ass chewy sweetness with a slight green apple tartness. Slightly bitter in the finish. Still, not overwhelming. The mouthfeel--huge surprise--is thick, coating and syrupy, but the carbonation puts up quite a struggle, giving it a crispness.

Drinkability: Surprisingly good; this is actually quite a friendly beer. Like Anchor's Old Foghorn, this is a huge beer, but it's not at all dark or overpowering. Juicy, sweet, even a bit tart; it's a nice drinking beer. But don't drink more than one, lemme tell ya--whoa.

WetCoaster, Apr 20, 2005
Photo of crookedhalo
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yeah, this one's always a fun one. Pours a tawny, russet copper color with a thin beige head. Aromas of scorchy candied malt and a whole lotta hops, melded in well with the malt. Lightly fruity, but in a big sense; everything about the beer is big. Lotsa hinting at wine-ness with a chock-full of tannins from the hops. Alcohol is noticable, just buried amongst goodness. Some gummy aromas, like gum sap from Brazilian rubber trees. God, I'm a sucker for a good old ale, sometimes I just get lost in them. Lightly sticky in the mouth, but I suppose it's a given with the 11.4% ABV tag. But the flavor is marvelous. Richly malted, with an equalling hop counterbalance, which really defines a good old ale, IMHO. Just a touch of lime sherbet nearer the finish (sounds wierd, but bittering after sweetness..., not so illogical in a strong ale) I'm impressed by this beer year in and year out. It doesn't seem to differ. A staple where heartiness is in order. Highly recommended for the strong ale lover.

crookedhalo, Apr 16, 2005
Photo of NolanGTI
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This may be my new favorite beer. Problem is I am having problems keeping it in the cellar, it beckons me every week....

The color is not unlike a typical ruby ale with a nice dark edge to it. The absolute most distinctive quality you notice before drinking is the aroma, not the color. At first whiff, you'll smell alcohol and lots of it.

After you get past the alchohol there is a beuatiful boquet on this baby. I have smelled something differerent almost every time I drink it. Being an old ale it seems to be more complex, like a great wine.

What amazes me about this beer is after the stunning aroma it has suck a delicate taste. It takes a sip or two to cut through the alcohol, but then you begin to notice all kinds of subtle flavors layered in with a great malt charecteristic.

It doees have the nice alcohol burn and definitely should be had in small quantities to avoid an evil hangover (learned the hard way).

I will be heading to shangy's to stock up on more next time I am there.

NolanGTI, Apr 14, 2005
Photo of Fish113d
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling a 2004 version of this ale, sent to me by my buddy Sulldaddy. I pour into a tulip glass at room temperature. It pours a chestnut/ruby color with a slightly fizzy head that lessened to a slight edge layer with minimal lacing on the glass; very clean looking ale, which is always nice. Aroma up front is vanilla with an underlying sour aroma with dry oak aromas throughout as well; lots of alcohol on the sniff which killed some aromas; reminded me a lot of a bourbon or maybe even a dry sherry. Taste is lots of sweet fruits (plums or cherries maybe- hard to distinguish) along with lots of drying notes on the finish due to the alcohol. Some malt flavor comes through on the body but the bourbon flavor really comes through. It actually reminds me of a fruity Southern Comfort. Mouthfeel is lots of alcohol and even MORE alcohol! Little carbonation gives way to the alcohol making this a dry brew which warms my tummy. I loved this one really. Exactly what I want out a "big beer". Thanks Sully!!!

Fish113d, Apr 13, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I am sampling a 2004 vintage in a pint glass at room temperature.
The beer pours a deep crimson color with a frothy off white head foaming up about 1 cm and fading quickly to an edge layer. Aroma is a mixture of raisins, red grape juice, toffee, a bit of biscuity scent and some mild earthy hops.
First sip reveals a slightly syrupy texture with average and prickly carbonation. Sweet brown sugar and molasses starts the beer with chocolate covered dark fruit in the middle (raisins) and finishes with a bit of a hot alcohol bite that warms me as it passes down my throat to my belly. WOnder if that will mellow in my remaining bottles?
The syrupy texture is smooth and coats my palate, while leaving a sweet coating on my lips. A very tasty and robust beer that is not for the faint drinker. This is definately not a good choice for trying to convert someone to the world of better beer, but I enjoy it a lot!

sulldaddy, Apr 11, 2005
Photo of beercollector
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This 2003 pours a nice ruby with an average off-white head. There is good lacing that stays well on the side of the glass.

A heavy malt aroma with a light herbal hop and then a medicinal smell.

This is a full bodied malty old ale with a slight hop aftertaste. It has a soft carbonation and moderate sweetness. This is a beer to sit down with and spend the evening slowly sipping a couple.

beercollector, Apr 10, 2005
Photo of longarm
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 release. Appears dingy amber with decent carbonation that lasts quite well.

Aroma is outstanding, filled with sweet oranges and caramel, not caramel malt, but candied caramel. I'm also catching a small amount of something resembling cotton candy. Slightly alcoholic as well.

Flavor generally sweet, like dates with mild alcoholic heat and slight hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is a bit cloying, maybe a bit too heavy on the malt, but it coats extremely well.

Considering the strong sweetness and especially high alcohol, it's a rather drinkable and pleasant brew. I think this would go well paired with a cold, dark chocolate based dessert.

longarm, Apr 06, 2005
Photo of granger10
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 version:

This beer pours a deep mahogany amber color with a tight tan head that holds up. Minimal lacing. Vinous aroma with caramel and dried figs and then a sharp brandyish alcohol kick. Starts somewhat sweet and fruity with a caramel and apple flavor. Underneath there's a roasted earthiness. Alcohol precense is strong, even for this somewhat aged bottle. Tastes like a brandy or cognac or scotch or something along those lines, i'm not completely sure. Hop flavor is almost drowned out by the alcohol but the hops do provide a drying lingering sensation in the back of my mouth. Firm and slick bodied in feel, this beer is quite tasty and goes down well while the flavors hold in the aftertaste for quite some time. Very nice!

granger10, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of SupaCelt
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a really pretty drink. Sorry if that sounds light in the trousers, but it has the richest amber colour I have yet laid eyes upon. Black cherry or super ruby double cranberry comes to mind. A thin and bubbly one finger head rose up and crashed into the alcoholic inferno beneath in moments. No lace. Not even a ringer by the time I got to the middle of the glass. I see some carbonation spritzing off to the atmosphere. That colour though. WaWa WeeWa.

The smell says whiskey dumped on some caramel and apple and maybe some cherry. Sweet and strong smelling. Not super pungent by any stretch.

The taste was really a shock. Not much happening here. I had certain expectations going into the taste test that just were not met. I can say for an old ale with not that much flavor it hides the alcohol pretty well. I am unsure how this thing pulls that stunt off, but it does. You get a sugar crystally, fruity, carameled flavor followed by a warmth that let's you know that this old girl has some joy juice in it. Tiny bitterness or alcohol bite in the finish. But the whole thing is kinda light. Both in texture and in taste. The thickness and boastful flavors that I expected are nowhere to be found. But the colour! I wonder at this point if I have made a crucial error and sprung this bastard loose too early. Then I think, well it isn't going to grow a set and get thicker in the bottle if I leave it for a year. Flavors could possibly improve, but the body is not going to get any more full. I am kind of disappointed as I have contemplated drinking this bottle for awhile ( okay, a few days )now and the thing just fell short. Flopped like a fat, wet titty. Not to worry, I intend to get another bottle and age that sucka into a dust covered cellar dweller. Ahh yes, hope. It is all I have. This is far inferior to T.C.O.A. is all I hafta say to those that feel me : )

SupaCelt, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of cokes
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004
Clear, rusty amber/bronze with a patchy pale tan lacing.
From here on out, it's analogous to fruit punch. Smelling strongly of pineapple, cherry, pear, and grape. Spiked with rum.
Tastes similar. Full of tropical and domestic fruits, like a heavy syrup Tropicana puree. Gobbed with pineapples, apples, pear, peach, cherry, grape, plum, raspberry. The underlying base is caramel, but the fruit is so thick as to basically negate the standard conception of malt..and, for that matter, alcohol. If anything, it's a bit one-sided with it juiciness, but it's so damn delicious, and nothing here is forced, out of place, or artificial seeming. A quick breadiness reminds us that this is, in fact, beer, and precedes an algae-rich hop notion of plant life.
Heavy, thickened texture, with a sluggish carbonation that gives this just the movement it needs to prevent it from seeming stagnant or cloying.
There is nothing else like this, American, British, anywhere.

cokes, Mar 29, 2005
Photo of ism
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 opened 2005-03-28. 11.4% ABV.

Pours with a small head that disappears quickly, the lacing nonexistent after a minute, both succumbing to the alcohol. Beautiful amber-ruby hue. Scent of complex blend of raisin, spices, fruit, caramel, and alcohol. Light carbonation and slight acidity tickles the tongue, and sweet caramel washes over, with raisin, cloves, and orange peel. Goes down with a nice alcohol warmth, very light bitterness emerging, and a bit of coriander. A thorough adventure from glass to throat.

A complex beer, quite warming, not devastating, very pleasing, and I am confident it will get better. I immediately cellared the remaining three. You cannot pass this up.

ism, Mar 29, 2005
Photo of asabreed
4.9/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer about 6 months ago and have been dying to try it again; I deemed it then as one of the best beers I've ever tasted.

Thankfully, I was able to find a 4-pack at Carytown Wine and Beer in Richmond for about $10, and I would've paid much more to be able to buy for bottles for sure. I think I had the 2003 edition 6 months, but now this is the 2004, and a fresh bottle that I just opened. One of the reasons it has an almost perfect score is for my expectations being so high, and they ended up being pretty much right on as far as what I can recall after that first taste.

Appearance: Beautiful amber, orange, reddish color, with a lace that sticks and then recedes quickly. Nice outline of white around the beer that remains nicely, and no lace sticking to the wine glass.

Smell: Better than I remember it. Raisins. Toffee. Faint hints of chocolate. Faint hints of many kinds of fruit. The Caramel presence is huge, though not cloying but extremely surprising and welcoming. The sweetness is what surely fills the nose, but again, it's not so sweet you think it's a fruit beer. Reminds me of a good barley wine, yet the faint smell of hops usually in many isn't present, andf it really isn't missed in that sense because the aroma's so complex.

Taste: Extremely complex, and extremely inviting. The flavors come out immensely from the smells. And for how sweet it smells, once would imagine the sweetness would overtake the palate. However, the aftertaste is one of the attributes that denies any such claim. One may think it would be too sweet, too overpowering with the alcohol, too unbalanced. Not at all. I don't know how it's done, but not only is the aftertaste sweet, it's balanced, complex yet again, and stays with you in the mouth. Stunning.

Mouthfeel: I don't see how it can get any better. This may be the perfectly delicate balance between light and chewy.

Drinkability: The only reason I'm giving this a rating that isn't perfect is for the extremely high ABV. I would never drink more than one at a time because it's so goddamn good you'd be a fool to do so.

This is a gorgeous beer and one that will remain, I imagine, in my top five for as long as I continue to drink it. Please seek this out, as it's worth it for the price if you can find it in singles or a 4-pack. Bravo, North Coast.

NOTE: As I said, this is the 2004 batch, so it could have been brewed and bottled over a year ago or less than six months ago. That said, I can't wait to shelve a few of these for at least a year to see what wonderful things happen. I've had way too many barley wines in the past year that have been so green that I couldn't believe I even attempted to open it. This is a case where, in [probably] less than a year, this beer's come through, which makes it even more inviting that in its "green" state it can be such a fantastic thing.

asabreed, Mar 21, 2005
Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,642 ratings.